Friday, August 31, 2007

Hot Golfer and a quick reversal

I've managed to get my character studies for The Bones of Summer into some kind of sensible order and with enough content to spark me off. So hurrah indeed! It's given me one or two incredibly useful ideas for people's motives and where I go from here, so that's a relief. One of the ideas in fact came totally out of left field and I thought: yes, that's why it happens as it will do. That makes sense. I do love it in this writing game when you get those moments when your skin tingles. It's great. It keeps you going. And God knows how you need to be kept going.

With that happiness filling my head, I've had one of my best golf games ever, I think. And certainly one of my most consistent. Hell, I was just rocking - and, believe me, that's rarely the case. My tee shots were the straightest they've ever been for sure. Marian and I were just hysterical with laughter over it all, and boy did I get cocky. Bloody hell, I could have spat at the ball and it might well have gone happily onto the fairway. I'll revel in it while I can, as you can guarantee that this "In The Zone" feeling won't last! Indeed, the very sweet old gent in front of us wisely said that a good golf game is not given, but lent by the Lord for a time, and we must enjoy it until it's taken away again. Too bloody right, mate!

Afterwards I went shopping in Godalming and was so psyched up that I actually reversed (yes!! Reversed!! You did read that right ...) into a car park space first time. Ye gods and little fishes - will the day's miracles never end? We-ell, I thought, I understand my character, I've just played a shit-hot game of golf and, even though I'm a woman, I can bloody well reverse into that space. Which was exactly what I did. The only thing missing at that point was a swift round of applause from the passers-by, but I suppose I must come down to earth sometime. Honestly, my head was so big by the time I got back home that I'm surprised I managed to get into the flat at all.

This afternoon, I have submitted some poems to "The Seventh Quarry" poetry magazine, read through and made suggestions for work in my Writewords groups, and had someone give me some brilliant suggestions for changes to Chapter Two of The Bones of Summer which I have now done. Many thanks indeed, Susan.

Later on, I'd better get the Wedgwood out for tonight's dinner with friends and make sure it looks presentable. We don't have enough normal crockery for six people, and Lord alone knows where we're going to put the table, but I'm sure we'll cope somehow. I'm looking forward to seeing Robin & Liz and their partners - we always have a really good evening, if late! Robin is something of a night owl really. But you know me - I must admit it will be nice to put the flat back to how we usually have it afterwards. Lordy, but I'd best have a bath too, and put my non-golf clothes on!

Today's nice things:

1. Getting excited by my character studies
2. Golf
3. Reversing into a space with style and panache!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Characters and counselling

Enjoyed my counselling session with Kunu today - we talked about family (poor Uncle Leonard ...) and the importance of being oneself. Two subjects which, to me, seem to be completely contrasting of course. Bizarrely, I think that the loss of the rapidly diminishing older generation (sad though it is) is actually making me feel rather liberated. The fewer of the power-brokers there are in the family, the more I feel able to be myself and not be judged for it. And the more level the playing-field between me and my brothers & cousins (all male, damn it) becomes. I think I've grown up amongst a family who believe that the menfolk are more likely to be in the right and, as I'm the only woman in my generation, that's been a bugger to be in, to be honest. I've always started from a position of weakness. Now, it's as if the air above me is clearing and I can begin to appreciate the sky. And see more clearly to fight (and believe in) my own corner. Sorry if that seems overly poetic, but it's true.

Interesting too that after Leonard's death, Mum rang me up to ask me my opinion on whether she should go to the funeral or not. Good God, but that's the first time in living memory that the power has been on my side of the fence, or that she's ever asked my opinion on what she should do, I think. My answer of course was no: travelling 200+ miles after a major cancer op is the height of stupidity and I (in my sudden and totally unexpected role of Decision-Maker) told her so. Even more unexpectedly, she agreed and hasn't gone. Ye gods indeed! Neither, of course, have I. I mean: me? Family? Not to mention coping with the Great and the Good in York Minster, and a zillion-and-one passing clergymen - no way! My (nasty) cousin of course seemed to expect it and rang up earlier in the week to give me copious different instructions. Which I ignored, deleting him sharply and without response from my voicemail. Dream on, buster .... I'd rather go oop north and pay my own respects to the dear departed in my own way later in the year. Perhaps taking my recuperating parent with me (as long as I still hold the power, of course!) - we'll see.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch ... I've sketched in the character studies I need for The Bones of Summer, and hope to do a few paragraphs on each later in the week. Bloody hell, but it almost feels like a real novel now. Almost. I've also popped round to see Gladys, but I think she was either hiding or asleep, so I just left a message. Or perhaps, in my new persona as Power-Crazed Individualist (you mean that's a change??), she's too scared to see me. And I was wearing my special caring face too - ah well.

Ooh, a spooky moment - I was uploading the beginning of The Bones of Summer onto my website - which can be found under the Novels menu - and realised that my beginning punchy scene has exactly the same number of paragraphs as my beginning punchy scene in The Gifting. I was so traumatised by this that I wrote a poem:


Each of my last two novels
has started
with a short section

comprising exactly
thirteen paragraphs
before the punch occurs.

Is it a call for help,
or is the other side
trying to tell me something?

God help me - answers on a postcard please ... Or maybe I should just opt for writing the haiku novel? I think the whole story is there in miniature after all, really.

I've also just dragged myself kicking and screaming to the end of the much-hyped Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir. Deep, deep sigh. Honestly, I don't think it's as good as it thinks it is. And there's way too much history and no character - not surprising from an author who up to now has only written history books, I suppose, but did she have to browbeat me with her knowledge of the era quite so much?? I'd stick to the non-fiction if I were her. It was amazing what an absolutely irritating cow she made poor Lady Jane Grey into as well. A feat in itself, I suppose. But about three-quarters of the way through, I seriously wanted to take the ruddy axe and chop the wretched child's head off myself. It would have saved so much pain - mine. Not to mention history's. The best character was the evil, cold-hearted mother - I could really understand where she was coming from and had every sympathy for her! Mind you, it does serve to emphasise what a stonkingly good writer Philippa Gregory is - so my advice is if you want to read a good historical novel, drop Weir and go for the Gregory. Every bloody time!

Oh, and Juli from Mighty Erudite Publishers has asked me to take a quick look at a novel she's interested in publishing - which I'll be delighted to do as it's by Mark Wagstaff, and his stories are so wonderfully dark, bitter and London. If you know what I mean. I can highly recommend his marvellous short story collection, Blue Sunday Stories - if you like your reading edgy and powerful, that is.

Tonight, I've got to clean the flat as we have people for dinner tomorrow (people! Oh no, where can we hide??), and do the recycling while Lord H gets to grip with a summer pudding in the kitchen. And there's about six zillion things on TV which I want to watch also. My dears, where will I find the time?

Today's nice things:

1. Counselling
2. Writing
3. Mighty Erudite work.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mindfulness and a little bit of moaning

Felt better today - thank God. Or at least the world of work wasn't quite so overwhelming as it usually is. Probably because today is my last day this week and the rest of the week is mine - or as near as mine as possible, bearing in mind the amount of stuff I've got lined up till the weekend!

But before I get to today, I have to say thank you to Sue for nominating me for a Nice Blogger Award. I'm very grateful to be a recipient, naturally, even though I thought I leaned more towards Nasty Blogger, but there you go! I think this shows more of Sue's generosity of spirit and general kindness than it does mine, I have to say. I'm sorry though that I still haven't found a way of getting the banner for the Nice Blogger Award, nor indeed the Creative Blogger Award given to me by Cathy earlier on, onto the site. My technical abilities are sadly lacking, I fear ... However, undaunted by my web idiocy, I have decided to nominate Jackie Luben for a Nice Blogger Award as her blog is so lovely, and Irene Black for a Creative Blogger Award, as her photos are always stunning. Well done, both! But I'm afraid you'll have to find your appropriate banners either from Sue or from Cathy! Sorry ...

I also have to say that last night's "Gavin & Stacey" on TV was utter rubbish. Dull, flat and full of old, old jokes we've all heard or seen before. Triple yawn. They might as well retitle it "Terry & June" at this rate - at least T&J had more style. That's my moaning moment, in case you're wondering ... Though I did enjoy the adorable and funny/sexy Hugh Dennis in "Outnumbered" and will definitely be watching tonight. After "Heroes" of course.

Anyway, today at work hasn't been too bad. I finished off my Steering Group minutes, and am now heavily involved in rearranging the Student Care website. Quite a way to go yet, I fear, so please don't tell me the errors. Also had a lovely walk around the campus at lunchtime, and sat by the lake for a while trying to chill. Then had my interview with Susan at the Counselling Centre about the "Mindfulness" course. Quite a good chat, but we've decided that I won't consider it until next year - as I need time to cope with stuff that's going on now. Which is fair enough actually, and has certainly made me feel better.

Ooh, and I got my first payment for services rendered to Mighty Erudite Publishers today, hurrah! Thanks, Jools! So can pay my cheque in when I'm in town tomorrow. Along with the royalties cheque from my first novel, The Hit List, which came through today - that'll be £3.00 for the last year then. Sigh!... The riches of being a writer, eh ... I promise to spend it wisely! Ho ho.

Tonight, I'll think about my character studies for The Bones of Summer and chill watching TV. Bliss.

Today's nice things:

1. Getting the Mighty Erudite cheque
2. Sorting out the Mindfulness course and deciding against it for now
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back to school ...

Oh Lordy, but going back to work after a bank holiday is hell!! Absolute hell! Have felt really twitchy and low (not sure you can be twitchy and low - but you know what I mean ...) all day. And, in the run-up to the start of term next week, there's so much ruddy stuff to do. Groan.

Spent most of the morning saying as little as possible and attempting to recover my professional face from the wastepaper bin I must have left it in last week. Honestly, but the cleaners should know by now to leave it on my desk for the start of Monday. Or in this case Tuesday ... I have also been attempting to sort out a structure for our new-look web pages (so don't hold your breath, people), chase up the outstanding appointments for the upcoming Freshers' Week, and trying to persuade people to turn up to Steering Group this lunchtime. The latter was something of a failure really, as only half of those who usually come turned up. So my "heading them off at the pass" skills could obviously do with an update. Bugger. And get me a faster horse. Afterwards, we had so many sandwiches left over, we could have fed the 5,000 with them. Without the need for a miracle. And I'm not even mentioning the muffins. Well, you wouldn't, would you ...

So, this afternoon, I have been struggling with the minutes for the meeting, trying to look bright and breezy (ho ho), and chewing my way through acres of muffin. (Steady, people, steady ...). What joy, eh. Roll on retirement. As they say.

Tonight, Lord H is gathering provisions at the shops, and we will be attempting to book our October holiday. North Wales, if you're asking. God, but I hope it doesn't rain every day while we're there! And I think there are a couple of comedies on TV later on, so will be glued to them. With my requisite glass of whisky. Or should it be gin tonight? Hell, we'll see ...

Today's nice things:

1. Muffins
2. Getting to the end of the day without screaming and jumping out of a window
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Monday, August 27, 2007

Of ladies' loos and hot men

Enjoyed the last night of Glyndebourne yesterday - though I do think that the St Matthew Passion interpretation is less of an opera and more of a meditation. Still, very interesting to see it performed in the highly stylised way they did it. At some points, it did remind me of Japanese drama (not that I've seen much), with a handful of Mystery Play ritual thrown in. Though I really could have done with more colour. Did they all have to be dressed in black and white? I ask you!

Also, it was quite sad as I found out it was the last day of the lovely lady who looks after the ladies' loos on the red side of the stalls, as she's retiring this year. I've had lots of funny and warm conversations with her over the years and I'm very sorry to see her go. She always made me feel very at home even amongst the poshitude of the great country-house opera season, and it really won't be the same next year. I bought her a little something from the Glyndebourne shop to say thank you and there were a few hugs at the end of the show. I'll miss her - but as she has 5 children and 14 grandchildren, I suspect retirement won't be a leisurely experience!

And, as it was the last night, I managed to flutter my eyelashes enough at the very cute waitress at the Mildmay so we wangled an extra two chocolates out of her. Each. Lovely! And I think we were rather in there. Both of us! My, how modern we in the shires are becoming, ho ho. Still, we tipped well.

Today, I'm feeling like a normal human being again - for the first time this week. Sadly however, Lord H is sporting a sore throat and a slight headache, and usually he never gets sick. After all, it was me who promised during the marriage service to take on all marital diseases for the both of us. At least I think that's what I must have said ... I'm obviously not performing my marital responsibilities correctly then! That said, he's been well enough to go to Pulborough Brooks today to look at birds (of the feathered variety, one hopes) and has promised to bring back Chinese food. Hurrah! Just what we need for a bank holiday.

And I've been doing more to The Bones of Summer - and am now at 20,000 words. And really beginning to buzz with it. At least I can see where the next chapter should be going - which is really very good for me, as usually I can't see more than a page in advance. And in the chapter after that one, the two lads should be back in London, so I'll be on slightly more familiar ground. Phew. But my next job is to step back and do some character studies for the cast list. It always helps at this stage.

This afternoon, I was planning to watch "Galaxy Quest" on the video, as you really can't go wrong with an Alan Rickman (God, he's soooo hot) film. But - oh misery me! - it's broken, so I've had to watch "Clueless" instead. Which actually I also really enjoy and the bloke that plays Josh is hot too, so that's cheered me up. But I'll obviously have to buy another copy of the Rickman film.

Bloody hell, how I love bank holidays! But I know it will make the pain of going back to work tomorrow that much greater, groan ... Still, a Chinese and a beer will see me through. I hope!

Today's nice things:

1. Writing
2. Watching "Clueless"
3. Chinese & beer.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A glorious cycle of song

Sorry. Couldn't resist the title, even though it's taking the blessed Dorothy Parker out of context. Enjoyed last night's opera, even though I didn't feel at all well during it, especially the first half. Still, you can't really go wrong with a Britten - particularly all that yearning homoerotica which is basically a major part of his "The Turn of the Screw". Marvellous! And, my goodness, how that young boy (taller now by far than when I saw it last year of course) just has to trust the red-haired man during that bath & winter scene. Though - was it just me expecting it? - or did they not take it quite so far to the edge as they did before?... Still, just goes to show: never trust a red-head. They're a peculiar people.

Am feeling rather better today however - thank the Lord! Though still snorting like an old horse. Lord H has gone shopping for some Tunes or Fisherman's Friends (oo-err, missus) in case I need them this afternoon ...

.... when we're off (again!) to our last Glyndebourne of the season - the St Matthew Passion. Just the thing for a Sunday then - and at least I don't have to worry about the plot. Talking of plot, it does amuse me when - as yesterday - the cast of an opera are singing in English and yet they still put sur-titles up. Don't they trust us to listen? On the other hand, some of the poetry in yesterday's libretto is stunning, so always good to have a glance upwards on occasion. Oh, and today we'll be eating in the Mildmay restaurant - so not quite the hired hands kudos that we had for carrying yesterday's picnic to our spot of choice and setting up for us. And God but he was seriously cute! Glyndebourne must have decided to hire them dark and more-ish and with sexy foreign accents this year. Mmm, lovely. Perhaps next year we'll plan more picnics ...

Oh, and other exciting news - John tells me that he's sent the signed contract for Maloney's Law back to PD Publishing so it looks like we're getting there - slowly but surely! I think I see a light at the end of the tunnel, Carruthers! Let's hope it's not an oncoming train.

This week's haiku:


is for poetry.
I can't possibly do plot
until the autumn.

Hell, that's my excuse anyway.

Today's nice things:

1. Glyndebourne
2. Feeling a little more normal (though still v. tired)
3. No work tomorrow - hurrah for bank holidays!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Local infamy but the show goes on

Shock! Horror! The Surrey Advertiser has actually printed my letter extolling the virtues of the two girls who stole the Farncombe cardboard policemen (as per a previous blog) - and has even (for once) spelled my name right! Goodness me - a little local fame at last. Though, I expect the boys in blue will be knocking on my door any day now and Her Majesty may have the pleasure of my company for some time ... (you heard it here first). However, Lord H says I may yet escape a jail sentence either by pretending I've never heard of Anne Brooke (which should be fairly easy actually) or by pretending to be cardboard. I think I might well go for the second of the two options. Till then I'd best lie low and practise looking innocent ...

Still feeling cold-ridden today, sadly, even though I am taking so many pills that I'm sure I can hear the sound of rattling when I walk. So, I have (as ever!) taken advice from Sue and sent Lord H to the shops today for essential provisions. Which he has, more or less, managed to do - what a hero! That said, essential Husband Points have been lost as I had to change three (three!) toner cartridges on the printer all at the same time yesterday, and this morning I had to open a new fruit juice carton by myself. Honestly! Isn't this sort of technical operation exactly what husbands are for?? (Lady S-I-L-T-B take note!). Ah well.

This afternoon, I am dousing myself with more get-well pills and we're off to Glyndebourne for the first jaunt of the weekend to see "The Turn of the Screw". As interpreted by Britten. A nasty, poisonous little tale, as they say ... Just my thing then. And I loved it when I saw it before, so I hope they don't change much this time. Taking advantage of the hoped-for good weather (ha!), we've ordered a picnic and servants (ho ho) to transport it for us, so we don't have to rush around packing wildly beforehand. Thank goodness.

Oh, and I've done some more to The Bones of Summer - getting into real crisis mode now. Poor Craig. I'm at 18,500 words, and hope to get to 20,000 by the end of next week. All things being equal.

Today's nice things:

1. Seeing my name in the Surrey Ad - Lordy, but I'm such a sad git (but a happy one)!
2. Writing
3. Glyndebourne.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Friday, August 24, 2007

Recuperating ...

Another day of generally attempting to get well for the weekend today. Cancelled golf this morning and I haven't been into Godalming to get any shopping - plan to try to see if I'm up to it tomorrow morning.

That said, I do feel a bit stronger - and actually I haven't been as fiercely ill as I usually am, so that's a blessing beyond my expectations. Plus I've actually been able to sleep so quadruple huzzahs all round! Funny though how I still feel like a squeezed-out sponge - or hell maybe that is just me?...

Anyway, I've done no writing today - apart from the blog of course - so am feeling rather guilty and might do some later. Though, heck, a couple of days off never hurt anyone. And I'm sure Paul & Craig are enjoying it down in Devon. Hope the weather holds for them. Writerly note: hmm, must mention the weather.

Instead I've watched an episode of the always adorable "Lewis" on DVD (please God let them make another series - please please please ...), napped for another two hours, had a spot of lunch and finished my latest Harlan Coben book, Promise Me. Which was the usual page-turning stuff and you can't put it down until you know what happens. Plus the humour and dialogue are great. But I must say I am getting rather wearied of Win - the psycho "deus ex machina" who always gets Myron out of his scrapes. It's getting a wee bit predictable now - isn't Myron adult enough to solve his own problems, rather than always (sigh ...) calling in the evil Superman??... Also, I thought the ending was rather contrived though I do admit the twist was nicely done. Being me, I would have preferred it if the innocent teenager had been the arch-criminal - now that would really have been wonderful! Plus she could have gone off with the wretched Win and they could have lived happily ever after together - somewhere else.

I've also been amused by one of BBC's online news headlines today - "Detectives uncover a hidden Constable" - still laughing. Um, isn't it a question of just opening the staff room door??... There he is, Inspector! My, our British Bobbies are the best in the world, you know. They probably found him with the Weapons of Mass Destruction, ho ho.

Tonight, I'm going to go for the usual Friday pizza & garlic bread option, but I'm still unsure about the wine. We'll see. And I must admit to feeling more human after my nap - there's hope for me yet then.

Today's nice things:

1. Feeling a little better
2. Lewis
3. Laughing at police activities.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lydia Languish and some thoughts on royalty

Goodness me but today I have been the Lydia Languish of Godalming. It's the only way to be, m'dears. I had a lovely lie-in, followed by an equally long bath and a Lemsip. All utterly exhausting of course - which may explain why breakfast was such an intellectually challenging exercise. The layout of the flat means that the kitchen is actually the furthest room away from the dining room (almost), and in the course of breakfast preparation, I managed to forget the milk, the spoon, the Lucozade (fruit juice replacement when ill) and the Lemsip (see above). So I seemed to have to make eight trips before I could actually sit down and eat rather than one. That's the week's exercise done then ...

This led me nicely into a lovely two-hour nap in the middle of the day and, indeed, I was only woken up by what seemed to be an enormously loud buzzing next to my ear which turned out to be from an insect the size of a pin-head. How do they make so much noise? Do they carry microphones? Project their voices? It's a mystery.

Anyway, as I was up, I decided finally to watch my DVD of "The Queen", which Lord H kindly bought me for my birthday a couple of months back. Marvellous - really classy and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Almost made me think about liking Diana - but, really, as she was such a manipulative cow (pause for brickbats and hate mail, no doubt, but it's true!...), that would be a bridge too far of course. My sympathies were with Prince Philip. And the boys. Dreadful to lose a parent at that age, no matter how irritating they are. Anyway, I must have been one of only four people in the country (including Lord H) who really couldn't have cared either way - and I know about the other two as we met them when we were out walking on the day of the wretched woman's funeral: wry smiles exchanged all round on that occasion. Oh no, that's not true - my stepfather never trusted her either. Five of us then!

Actually, I really like Camilla. Much more dignity and she'll make a far better queen. And besides it's always lovely to see a man choose the less outwardly attractive woman. It gives hope to the rest of us normals ... Go, Camilla, go girl!

Tonight, it's "Mock the Week" (I love Hugh Dennis - he's the best!) and "My Name is Earl", so I shall be glued. And I might even have a sherry - I was too ill for Sherry Night last night - but we'll see. After all, I don't want to have a relapse ...

Today's nice things:

1. Napping
2. DVDs
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The worst wine-maker ever and lunch with Julia

Still feeling shocked and very flat after yesterday’s news about poor Uncle Leonard. Have sent off a letter to my aunt today, but will try to ring her tonight. Rang Mother from work today though – she hadn’t had a very good night at all, poor thing. Not that I’m surprised. Worse for my aunt of course. Bugger. We did share a wry smile though at the thought of Leonard attempting to convince St Peter at the Pearly Gates to let him take in his home-made wine through. No! No! we cry. That paint-stripper is best in the other place by far …!! Trust us on that one, Uncle Leonard – though, knowing you, you’ve probably left us all a job-lot of the stuff in your will and will force us to drink it. Even from beyond the grave. Double bugger.

Anyway, this morning I’m at work and not feeling as sick as I thought I would. Maybe those supercharged nasal sprays from the doctor are doing some good after all. Thank the Lord. However, I’ve cancelled my chat with Susan in the Counselling Centre about the Mindfulness course – not sure I’m up to personal delving at the moment – I’ve rescheduled it to next week. In the meantime, I’m working away on the web project and attempting to look like a professional.

Oh, and there is some good news – Flame Books will be doing a second edition of A Dangerous Man, hurrah! With review quotes on the cover, more huzzahs. So once it’s out I hope they manage to sell some more copies. Michael will be wearing a new tee-shirt especially for the occasion. Probably bought with Jack’s money, but hey you know him …

Met Julia for lunch as it’s her last week here and I’m not in Thursday or Friday. As usual. Sorry to see you go, Julia, and I’ll miss your input at the University Writers’ Group, but glad you’ve got something nice to go to – and keep writing! Even more important – finish one of those novels, babe: they’re great and you know you want to!

I did have a “warm glow” moment today, when the Dean of Students said that his two older teenage daughters had been reading A Stranger’s Table and emailing their friends with quotes from it. Gosh, that’s nice – unless of course they’re emailing each other examples of how not to write and giggling helplessly. Ah well, eh! – and, heck, just as long as they’re producing better work themselves as a result, then I suppose I really can’t complain! And, whether they hate it or love it, at least they’re not indifferent to it …

Tonight, I’m not doing very much - though I have just spoken to my (nice - yes there is one!) cousin up north. My aunt's sleeping - which can only be a good thing under the circumstances. I sent our love. Apart from that, I'll watch TV and drink Lemsip. Bloody hell, it’s a plan.

Today’s nice things:

1. Chuckling with my Mother over Leonard’s dreadful wine-making - bizarrely
2. Lunch with Julia
3. A second edition of A Dangerous Man.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Bad news from the north ...

I was going to blog about being ill today and having to come home early, but Mother has just rung this evening to tell me my uncle has died. He was well into his 80s, so a good innings as they say, but still a shock. Especially as he hasn't been obviously ill - he was on one of his beloved U3A walks and simply died. Which leaves my aunt in a horrendously difficult situation indeed. But, then again, if I'm going to go, I'd like to go doing something I love and with as little pain as possible. I'm glad it was that way for him.

So, good for him, but bad for those who loved him. And a shame as he was actually one of my family members I liked (a rare event, I know, but it happens). I shall remember him for his individualism, his single-minded commitment to his projects (get him on the subject of the Crusades or air flight and you'd be there for hours, goddammit), and our delightful sparring matches. Also for being an irritating old bugger at times, but heck I liked that too. I'd say we were, on that point, quite similar, but actually we weren't blood relations - being related only by marriage. More's the pity.

So, Uncle Leonard, ex RAF chaplain and great maker of cork noticeboards and strange kitchen tiles, RIP. And I hope there are some Crusaders for you in heaven.

Anne Brooke

Monday, August 20, 2007

Day of groaning

Heavy Monday-itis today – a morning full of pain and groaning. Most of it mine. Have felt really demotivated and haven’t wanted to talk to anyone at all. Which is a shame as everyone seems to have so much to say. Damn it. Carol is back from honeymoon, complete with tan and wedding cake, so that’s nice. Especially as the cake appears to have a high booze content, hurrah. And, boy, have I needed that!

Some good news on the Mother front though – they think they’ve got all the nasty cancer bits out, though they might give her some Chemo sessions just to make sure – but they haven’t made up their minds yet. And probably won't till the surgeon comes back from her holiday in the Bahamas. The National Health Service is a wonderful thing, you know ... This will probably mean she’ll (Mother, not the surgeon ...)have to rebook her hols (my, how she does love her hols!) next year rather than this, but – as I told her last night – there’s at least another 20 years in the Old Gal yet.

I also seem to have spent a large part of the morning contacting the Nationwide to try to get them to stop a cheque. A simple admin process, you would have thought, but not when it takes ten minutes to work your way through the phone system to get to speak to a real person. And when I finally got to him, I had to go through the usual 100 questions before they actually believed I’m me. I’d just done those and was getting to the point where I could tell him what I wanted him to do when the damn phone got cut off. Arrrrggghhh!!! So I had to go through the whole thing again – deep sigh! Mind you, the second time, when I finally got to a real voice, I told it exactly what I wanted first and then did the security stuff. The customer fights back – aha! And they call this progress? Frankly, m’dear, it’s bollocks. Anyway, Jane H, if you’re reading, I’ve done the biz and sent you a new one – hurrah! And phew!

Thank goodness for my lunchtime reflexology session – I needed the chill zone big-time today for sure.

Oh, and I’ve sent off my signed contract for Maloney’s Law to John for onward transmission to PD Publishing so I look like a professional author. Almost. Even if only temporarily. Ho ho.

And I see on the Writewords site that yet another site expert has been appointed. So huge congrats of course to Claire – but surely now the site has so many darn Chiefs that there’s very little room for us Indians??!. To be honest, I really think it’s time to stop appointing experts as soon there’ll be no-one left to mentor or advise. Or whatever it is experts actually do that the rest of us don’t, if asked … And yes I know that sounds bitchy, but I do think it has to be said. Cue another deep sigh.

Tonight, I’ve got the ruddy shopping, so won’t be able to get home till later – and believe me I really really need to be at home. I do so hate it when I can’t get back sharpish. It’s my essential recharging zone. Much like Seven of Nine even outside the Borg Collective (apologies – just thought I’d slip in a Star Trek reference, as it makes me feel happier).

Oh, and here’s a poem:


Tall blue flowers
stand in an inkwell
as large as a desk.

They are as blue
as the sky
but the inkwell is clear.

Sometimes it's as if
I am empty
and all the world is coloured.

Post-shopping, I suspect a whisky (update: two so far, hurrah!) is definitely on the cards. And there are some chocolate squares in the house – thank goodness …! Nothing like a balanced diet, you know.

And I've just finished Anne Tyler's Digging to America. Hmm. Not vintage Tyler, to my mind. And some of it was quite irritating. Though I did laugh out loud on two occasions, so it does have something. Just not quite sure what. And is it me, or did she get bored at the end and ... um ... simply stop?

Today’s nice things:

1. Mother continuing to beat off the Grim Reaper once more
2. Poetry
3. Whisky. And chocolate squares.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Church and the Lazy Queen

Much to my surprise, I actually had a great time at last night's wedding evening do. Emma looked fab in her dress, the disco music was just my era and I rediscovered my Essex Girl disco roots. Hurrah! Though I have to admit to not dancing round my handbag - for the sake of Emma's blushes. And, seeing as we're both married to men who definitely don't dance, Pauline (Emma's mother) and I discovered the delights of quasi-Lesbian dancing. Bliss! Good job we're about the same height then. All in all it was grand - though thank the Lord there are no photos to prove it. At least not of me.

This morning, Lord H and I have visited St Nicholas' in Peper Harow to pay our theological respects. It was surprisingly full for a church that exists in the middle of absolutely nowhere down a private lane and near a duck pond. But pleasant enough - although I think I preferred St Mary's in Shackleton (their sister church). However, the pews were more comfy for Lord H and the hymns were nice. I got the giggles at Communion however - I was in line before Lord H and, upon kneeling, realised that the communal kneeler wasn't as firm as they usually are and all but overbalanced on the old gent the other side of me. I just saved us all from going down like dominoes, but was too late to warn Lord H who landed on the kneeler, rebounded upwards and nearly did a forward roll over the rail and into the sanctuary. Now, that would have been grand. I didn't dare look at him until we were safely back in the pew ...

Anyway, the rest of the day I have spent watching "Will & Grace" - a superb send-up of "The Sound of Music" which had me chortling into my ironing board (yes, I've finished the load at last!) - and napping. A girl can never have enough naps to my mind. And you'll be pleased to hear that the imminent sherry crisis (I finished off the bottle on Wednesday) has been solved by Lord H nipping into Waitrose and buying another couple of bottles. Phew. That should keep me going till the weekend then.

I might do a little more to The Bones of Summer - I really do have to lead Paul and Craig into the sex scene I've already written, as otherwise the poor dears are just floating in white space. And we can't have that, can we?

Tonight, there's a film on TV we're planning to watch - "A Cock and Bull Story" - which is supposed to be very funny. If it is, then it'll be ideal Sunday night viewing. If not, well, there's always the sherry.

This week's haiku:

I chop potatoes
and think of poetry. Breathe
starch and soft rhythm.

Today's nice things:

1. Emma's wedding (well, it counts as today!)
2. Giggling in church
3. Napping.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Cardboard policemen and contracts

Ye gods, I have a contract!!! Pause for screaming and running round the flat ... John has sent me the contract for Maloney's Law from PD Publishing and I have signed it and will send it back to him first thing Monday for onward transmission. I'd also like to take 100 photocopies of the darn thing and make them into this year's Christmas card, but Lord H tells me that's not what cool writers do ...

It's such a lovely grey colour with a purple splashy logo too - I love it. I love it so much I think I might take it to bed with me. God, but I am soooooo sad. I know.

Meanwhile, back in the wilds of Surrey, the Surrey Advertiser's front-page news is the theft of Farncombe's two cardboard policemen by two teenage girls. Yes, you did read that correctly - as part of Farncombe's new focus on community policing, they decided to give our next-door village its very own British Bobby. Two of them actually. Except that they were ... um ... cardboard. Which must really have put the fear of God into Farncombe's gang culture (and yes sadly there is one ... - the Farncombe Massif - or is it Massive? - if you're interested). Now of course, the Farncombe Massif Molls (assumed!) have stolen them and they are going to be charged with the dreadful deed and gain criminal records for their pains. Ridiculous. What should happen is the two girls in question should be feted and given the Keys to the Village or a medal for community service. At least. If I'd had the guts, I would have stolen the damn things myself. Cardboard policemen deserve all they get - and some! However, there is one good thing: the whole incident renews my hope in British youth culture. There are young people out there with sense, spirit and the will to act ...

This morning, Lord H and I have visited Lightwater Country Park in an attempt to see some woodpeckers. Lord H assured me that there are always woodpeckers there and whenever he goes (it's near work), great flocks of them fill the skies and fly from tree to tree in front of his very eyes. Well, um ... not today they don't, missus. Nairy a one, I fear - not even the sound of one. Unless they're all disguised as wood pigeons. Or cardboard policemen. Sigh. Anyway, we did see some long-tailed tits in silhouette and a Barnacle Goose. Which was fun. And the park itself is lovely.

Tonight, we're off to the evening wedding reception of Pauline's daughter, Emma. In Kent - which is a bit of a drive, so I'm hoping not to stay too late. Lovely to get an invite of course - but I'm not a great fan of parties, as you know. Very exhausting. Though it will of course be nice to see Pauline and the family.

Oh, did I say I actually got the contract today???!!

Today's nice things:

1. Getting the contract for Maloney's Law (did I mention that?)!!
2. Laughing at cardboard policemen
3. Lightwater Country Park (even sans woodpeckers).

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Friday, August 17, 2007

Golf and Bones

Had a great game of golf today with Marian - managed to get an excellent par on the first, hurrah!! Which included a really, really long putt. So off to a flying start indeed. Just a shame I couldn't keep it up for long. Sigh! Never mind, I didn't do badly throughout - and neither did Marian - and I managed to sink another long putt on my way round, so I can have a Smug Golfer's Smile for at least a week now. Till the next game ...

For the rest of the day, I've been working mainly on The Bones of Summer. Which is now at 17,000 words. So only 3,000 words to go before I stop and do my in-depth character studies. Yes, yes, I know the "rules" say you should do that before you start, but sod the rules eh? This is the way I like working and it suits me - though I appreciate it's a little weird.

I've also been worrying about my contract with PD Publishing for Maloney's Law. Sigh. John doesn't like the fact that they've only sent one copy of the contract over for me to sign and thinks this is very odd. I must admit it doesn't seem much of a problem to me - I'm happy to sign it (please God, let me sign it - soon!!) and just do copies for us. Heck, I don't get within sniffing distance of a real-live contract very often in my neck of the woods, and I can't bear the thought that I might lose out on it now. I'm really hoping it will all get smoothed over and neither side gets the hump and backs out (oh please God, noooooo ....). Interesting how my wishes don't figure much in this - it just seems to be agent and publisher getting into the ring. Is it always this way?? Then surely something is rotten in the state of Denmark, m'dears! I know both parties are only standing up for what they believe to be right, but it's making this particular author very very twitchy and I wish to God the agony would soon be over and I can get on with getting the book how PD want it. Yes, I admit it - I am a book whore - aren't we all? ...

Still, I've been cheering myself up with reading the latest gay anthology from Torquere Press called Animal Attraction. Good stuff on the whole - I particularly enjoyed "Bungalow Bill" by Ansley Vaughan. And two or three others were very moving too - I found myself in tears during "What We Leave Behind", and I loved the fantasy elements of "Cold Iron". All in all, a very good read!

Tonight, I've got the cleaning to do, and then there's a bottle of red wine waiting on the side, plus pizza and ice cream. Hurrah! Oh, and there are some little chocolate cakes to eat up before they go out of date. How sad indeed. Oh dear. Perhaps we can have them with the ice cream. I do hate waste ...

Today's nice things:

1. Golf (did I say I got a par?...)
2. Writing
3. The Animal Attraction anthology.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Counselling and some heavy editing

Up bright and early this morning to get some shopping done before my counselling appointment. Or as near bright and early as I can get. Managed to get all my shopping done by dint of whipping round town like a dervish on speed - including treating myself to some Molton Brown handcream (the same gorgeous one they use in the Glyndebourne loos so I can remind myself of summer and song all year round) and buying a new handbag. Which is unfortunately rather smaller than my old one, so I have had to do some jigging around with it. But at least it looks snazzy and less jaded. Wish the same could be said for me really.

Enjoyed the counselling today - apparently it's my 25th session with Kunu, so if I'd known I would have bought a pressie! - and I think the feeling the two of us have is that we'll carry on for a while till the end of the year and then see how we feel then. We do both also feel that things are improving, so that's good news for sure. Today, we discussed how I shouldn't try to deny the parts of me which are driven and super-competitive (hmm, that'll be most of me then ...), as I just need to harness them properly and balance things out with my attempts to do the relaxing/enjoyment thing. Without thinking either state of relaxed or driven is of itself "good" or "bad", but instead seeing both as necessary. Food for thought there indeed ...

I've spent most of the rest of the day going through the latest round of editing for Mighty Erudite Publishers and getting my thoughts back to them. It's been a lot more complex than it was for the earlier two collections I've done, I have to say - partly because a lot more input was needed - but I'll have to see what Juli thinks of it now. I'm also feeling chuffed as she has kindly added information on my efforts as poetry advisor onto the Mighty Erudite website, which can be found here. Thanks, Jools - make me sound almost important! Ooh, and I've also sent off my first advisor invoice - which sounds even scarier, ho ho!

Later this afternoon, I also popped in to visit Gladys - who is much brighter this week, though still getting tired. And remembering less, I fear. Still, it comes to us all, I suppose.

Tonight, I'm planning to watch "Mock the Week" and "My Name is Earl" whilst (yes, you've guessed it!) doing the ironing. Ye gods, will it never end??

Today's nice things:

1. Counselling
2. Shopping for me
3. Being a part of Mighty Erudite!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mobiles and mindfulness

Really enjoying my new mobile – I’ve worked out how to turn it on and off now, and have a nice picture of some stones and sand to calm me down when it turns on. Mind you, both Lord H and I found trouble working out where the navigation button was. You would have thought that in a 46 page manual, someone would have thought to put a diagram of what this was and where you could find it on the phone, but no. Nothing. We got there in the end purely by a process of elimination. I really need another ring tone though – I don’t really like any of the choices, so have left it on default for now. Not sure what Lord H would think of the Star Trek theme tune (one of them!) … But don’t even mention the fact that the phone appears to be able to get to the web and send emails. Isn’t that what computers are for? Heck, I struggle with texting. I’m unlikely to need anything whizzier!

Talking of which, what is it about the mobile phone that brings out the rudery in everyone?? If I show anything I've just done or bought to people, they can usually find something nice to say about it (and I certainly do the same back), but I've showed my new phone to my work colleagues, all of whom feel it's carte blanche to be as rude as possible. They don't like the shape, the size, the colour or the weight, moan, moan, moan. And yawn, yawn on my part really ... Well, I'm sorry, but I'm perfectly happy with my slim, elegant black thing, thank you very much - and actually I think that, if you had any concept of social politesse, you should keep your bad opinions to yourself. F**k the lot of you is what I say!

At work, we’ve been sent information on the forthcoming “Mindfulness” course being run by the Counselling Centre which starts in October. I’m quite interested in doing this – it’s meant to reduce stress and increase energy levels (and, ye gods, how I need that, especially right now!), but they’re very keen that you attend all the sessions and go to the day workshop, and I’ll be on holiday for the first one and will have to juggle stuff for the workshop, so I don’t know how that will be viewed. Lordy, but I can feel my stress levels mounting already … In addition, you’re encouraged to do up to an hour’s meditation a day as homework – which I know will be very good and is actually something I used to do in the dim & distant days beyond recall, but goodness knows how I’d fit it in now. I also don’t know if I might in any case come under the “psychologically vulnerable” category (when they don’t advise you to do the course) what with the regular counselling sessions and having had a fairly bad time last year and the beginning of this. Heck, I’m really worried now! Maybe the best thing to do is fill in the form, have my chat with the course coordinator and see what she suggests. Apparently there might be another course taking place next year so maybe that one will be the wiser choice? We’ll see …

Oh, and Penny who used to work in Student Advice popped in and we had a brief catch-up on Switzerland, dogs and the joys of a life of leisure (cue deep and envious sigh …). And I’ve had my first English apple of the season. Sharp indeed but bliss.

Went for a walk round the lake at lunchtime and saw seven ducklings. More bliss. Just like spring all over again. My, what a country girl I am at heart. Ho ho. Or, as Andrea commented when I got back to the office, seven little spring rolls. Ah cruel woman …

Tonight, I’m hoping to start describing Craig’s father’s house, and what Craig finds there, in The Bones of Summer but I have to admit that this scene is still a complete mystery to me (as most things are, actually, in case you hadn’t already gathered that …) so I’ll just have to write the darn thing to find out what’s happening.

And there’s “Heroes” and “Will & Grace” on TV, hurrah! I’ll have to watch whilst ironing – again!

I've also just finished a poetry collection anthology called this little stretch of life. It was okay, all in all, but nothing to write home about. Though Karen Green rocks, and if she had a collection, I'd definitely buy it.

Ooh, and some good news on the poetry submission front - Phil Carradice (Gawd bless you, sir!) has accepted all three of the poems I sent him for publication in Roundyhouse magazine early next year. Hurrah indeed!

Today’s nice things:

1. My new mobile
2. The poetry acceptance
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Olives, mobiles and sneaky neighbours

Had a fantastic time with Jane & Ang at Prezzo’s last night – we were the last ones out of the restaurant, so I think they were desperately waiting for us to leave, poor things. Will they accept another booking from us? We’ll have to see, eh …

Today the rainy season appears to have restarted, and I think I’m coming down with a cold (Jane/Ang – take those vitamins – now …). I have taken my Echinaforce tablets and am attempting to think positive thoughts. If that doesn’t work, I shall resort later this morning to my super-cold zapper pills.

Apart from that, it’s all quiet on the Western Front today, Carruthers … the curse of August on campus indeed. Though, to be fair, I’ve been doing a fair amount of urgent work on the website and sending out the odd set of minutes here and there. As you do. It was too cold and wet to go for my usual lunchtime walk, so I ended up sitting in the nearest meeting room for half an hour with my Star Trek Monthly magazine. Never say I don’t have elegance and discernment. It’s a great read!

And ooh! Ooh! Apparently, my new mobile phone has arrived at Lord H’s work – well, we think that’s what it is, but he won’t open it as it’s addressed to me. No matter how much I ask him. Sigh! So I’ll have to wait till later this evening to get a chance to play with it. As it were. I do admit to having slight worries when he described the size of the box it came in – have I unintentionally bought a brick?? We’ll have to see …

Tonight, Lord H is battling the weather to hunt the buffalo (aka doing the weekly shop) and I still have the ironing to do. Actually, I’m sure I have ironing to do that isn’t even ours. Which adds weight to my theory that when Lord H and I are out, half the people in the street sneak in and add their unironed items to my basket. Then when I’ve done it, they make the return journey to claim their belongings. Damn it. So, taking into account the low level of my ironing skills, there must really be a lot of crumpled people walking about town.

Later on, I might see how I feel about adding a few more words to The Bones of Summer – but only if I’m in the mood. And I’d also like to think about drafting a piece of flash fiction for this week’s Writewords Flash Fiction theme of “my favourite food”. So what should I choose? Chocolate? Green olives? Chips? Mashed potato with gravy? Custard? Ah, the list is endless – so much choice, m’dears, so much choice! Oh, hello, I think it’s olives:

An acquired taste

Angelina smiled her most seductive smile, reached out from the bed and took two green olives from the side dish.
‘Olives?’ her companion asked, an answering smile on his face.
‘Oh yes,’ she purred. Without breaking his gaze, she ate one of the two, licking the juice from her fingers. ‘One for me.’
Then she eased the other into a place where olives weren’t accustomed to residing.
‘And one for you,’ she said.

Other interesting news - Flame Books are considering bringing out a 2nd edition of A Dangerous Man - with quotes on the back cover - so Michael had better spruce himself up in case he gets the chance for a second outing. You never know your luck, eh ...

Today’s nice things:

1. A possible rerun for A Dangerous Man
2. Writing
3. Getting a new mobile – I hope!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Monday, August 13, 2007

Post-opera and a meal out

Yesterday’s opera was fantastic – La Cenerentola at Glyndebourne. The production was great – a hot conductor and a super-hot baritone (two, really – though one was funnier) for Ruth and me, and girly eye-candy for the boys – so what more could one want? We had great fun at the picnic too – our table seemed to be on a slope and every time someone jogged it, all the glasses would fall down. And as I was the one on the lower slope, I have now been christened with champagne and Pimm’s. And a splodge or two of cream as well. Thank goodness that these M&S dresses are so washable – and don’t show the stains. Ruth too managed to get champagne on her hair, but it actually made it more the style she was after so she reckons she might use the same method again. Assuming one can afford it of course …

Anyway, this morning, we have made a minimal start on the washing-up prior to work, but I’ll have to do a job-lot of it this evening. A shame too that we broke one of our champagne glasses – will have to try and replace it at some stage (see below!).

At work, I struggled with the temporary smaller car park the University has just designated – as they’re redoing the other one. Actually parking wasn’t the problem – it was just finding the pedestrian exit afterwards. I ended up pushing my way through a hedge to get to the road – with other, equally confused people following me. Hmm, I may have started a trend and I suspect that hedge ain’t long for this world, missus …

Here at my desk, I’m also struggling on with typing up the Nursery Management Group minutes, and failing to understand what I meant when I wrote them originally. No change there then. Oh and Ruth has kindly donated a marrow from her garden to the Poor of Godalming, so we will be super-healthy all week – thanks, Ruth!

I popped into Guildford at lunchtime to get some essentials (as you do) and also to look for a replacement champagne glass – see above (my, how I love the high life …). Unfortunately Debenhams don’t seem to do Villeroy & Boch any more, so I had to battle my way through the scary House of Fraser hugeness. Equally unfortunately, the V&B woman wasn’t there so couldn’t tell me if “Roma” glasses are still available – so I had to leave a message. However, later she very sweetly rang to tell me they don’t stock them any more, and not even Luxembourg has any. Ah well, nice of her to try. I shall have to go in again later in the week and see if I can start another set. Still, the exercise is doing me good! Bizarrely, I also bumped into Ruth’s husband, Douglas, in town – so expect those vicious rumours to start any day now … It seems he’s coming down with something nasty, poor chap, so here’s hoping we don’t all get it here too. The Curse of Glyndebourne runs deep, you know …

Oh, and here’s a poem. It’s one of those days indeed (is it just me??):


Nothing's happening
very slowly indeed;

the day clings to my legs
like treacle

or a difficult cat.
I think I will never

unhook it from the morning
and persuade it

to head just a little faster
towards night.

Tonight, Jane H, Ang and I are out for dinner and a local girly catch-up in Godalming at Prezzo’s which looks very smart, I must say. Jane is kindly picking me up so I can drink (hurrah! – thanks, Jane!), which is extra nice as last night I was the Glyndebourne driver.

Today’s nice things:

1. Writing a poem
2. Marrows
3. Dinner out with the local gals.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The lazy person's guide to editing

A very early blog - for which apologies, but we're off for the Glyndebourne experience at midday - seeing "La Cenerentola" (ie Cinderella) with Ruth from work and her husband, Douglas. Managed to pack the crockery, cutlery, napkins, glasses, candles, sellotape (for putting the table together), etc etc last night, plus iron the tablecloth, send Lord H to the house cellar to fetch the table and its accompanying legs (hence the sellotape ...) and remember to put the champagne, water and fruit juice in the fridge, and sort out the ice box. Phew! Oh, and I ironed Lord H's dress shirt as well, but have advised him to do a re-iron this morning, as my ironing skills are crap. I blame my mother, you know. Don't I always?...

Anyway, this morning, thus far, I have added one word to "The Bones of Summer" - "up", if you're interested and, yes, it is for one of the sex scenes. Believe me, in context, up is good!! I've also removed one-and-a-half lines from my poem, "Parakeets" (thanks, Jools, for the tip!). So when I publish my "Lazy Person's Guide to Editing" - which will include such gems as how adding one word can change a whole chapter, and removing a line can alter a poem forever, plus the trick of making your font smaller to make publishers think you're a star at the cutting game - I hope it will be a bestseller. At least amongst writers.

Might have time to ring mother later as well - you never know! If so, it'll have to be this morning, as I certainly won't have time post the opera tonight. And a "school night" too - shame there's no lie-in possible tomorrow ...

I haven't forgotten Sunday's haiku though. Here it is. Bizarrely, I've been thinking about tomatoes. Hell, maybe I ought to get out more.

Little tomatoes:
haikus on the tongue. Large ones:
sagas sailing home.

Today's nice things:

1. Gentle editing
2. Glyndebourne
3. Haikus.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Golf and a request for The Gifting

Good grief - miracles will never cease! I've just got back my Highly Commended certificate for The Gifting in the Annual Writers' Conference novel competition - and it includes a request from Piatkus Press for the first three chapters and synopsis. They apparently really liked Simon and the plot. The two things TLC hated then ... An interesting request indeed, and I didn't even think Piatkus did fantasy - let alone gay fantasy ...

So, having sent the rehashed MS to John Jarrold yesterday, I now have to follow it up today with a request for a partial to be sent out. Heck, at the very least it looks impressive. Plus I'll need to rejig my synopsis - which I've cunningly made look smaller by means of choosing a smaller font and using one-and-a-half linespacing instead of double. Deceit: thy name is woman. I'm getting Lord H to check it through to see if it makes sense in terms of the action, and then I'll send it to John later on. All things being equal.

And yes, I very much doubt Piatkus will take it, but hey I'd be an idjit not to try.

Golf with Marian and Siegi was fun, if hot. Some of our shots were spectacular - both good and bad - but that's the way the great game falls really. I didn't think we did too badly in the end.

Plus I've ordered a replacement mobile phone - which involved doing battle with O2 who refused to believe my workplace postcode (doesn't exist on their records apparently) to the extent that I gave up trying to persuade them that I do actually know where I work and told them to deliver to Lord H's work instead. It also amused me that the man I spoke to asked me to verify what the code on my account was, and when I told him I didn't have one, agreed that I was perfectly correct in saying that. Well, why bother asking me for something which doesn't exist then?? Sigh!...

This evening, I have done the extra poetry editing on Martin Burke's "Jerusalem" for Jools at Mighty Erudite Publishers and sent that off to her, so I hope it looks okay. Plus Lord H and I are attempting to make preparations for tomorrow's Glyndebourne visit. Best get my glad rags out then and pull that stomach in!

Oh, and I have made the decision to ask Authors Online to take my first novel, The Hit List, out of publication now, as it's ancient history, nobody's buying and, frankly, I have better things on the market to offer. It'll save the holding fee for this year then.

Today's nice things:

1. Getting the request from Piatkus
2. Ordering a new mobile phone
3. Golf.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Friday, August 10, 2007

Saving the universe ...

... with only a smile, a golf ball and a reasonable typing speed. But, Lordy Lordy, what a hell of a lot I've done or experienced(!) today. I've:

1. Finished (just now) the editing of The Gifting and sent it off by email to John Jarrold for his (possible) delectation. And, hell, but I don't think it's as crap as everyone makes it out to be. Bollocks to the critics, I say.

2. Played (extremely bad) golf with a merry laugh and a bright smile. I hope to God my next game (tomorrow) is a damn sight better though.

3. Shopped in Godalming, an outing which included buying bread and butter for tomorrow's golf lunch, lightbulbs (we are living in semi-darkness at the moment), the local paper (which has a 5 page spread of the Foot & Mouth crisis, together with an advert for a local country fair ... hmm, I think not, people), the Radio Times (don't bother - there's sod all on), herbal teas and a prescription update for my essential nasal spray (breathe, woman, breathe!). Amongst other things. I also booked a table for a gals' night out meal on Monday for approximately the right time - hurrah!

4. Visited Gladys - who was very low, and therefore glad for my loud voice and bad jokes. It takes her out of herself, you know. And at least, with me around, she doesn't need her hearing aid quite so much. Good to know my vocal foghorn comes in handy at times.

5. Heard from agent (see above) who tells me that the contract from PD Publishing has arrived - hurrah! - and he is sending it on to me for signing.

6. Heard (again) from agent, telling me that Hodder have rejected Thorn in the Flesh as they say the writing is not rich enough and there's too much padding. To steal someone else's line: please pass me the pitchfork and I shall stab myself here and now. And there was I thinking I was doing subtle, sparse and modern, Ah bollocks to it, eh.

7. Offered Thorn to Flame Books, who emailed back immediately to say that they weren't doing more crime for a while. Ah, I think they're slowly washing their hands of me, you know. I am very old news of course, in publishing terms (if you don't sell well within a month of publication these day, you are yesterday's girl, you know). But, surprisingly, I find myself quite pleased about this, and so I have ...

8. Asked Jennifer & the gang at Goldenford Publishers if they want to take it instead. After all, it's set in Godalming, so at least has local colour in it, plus the July 2006 London bombings. Here's hoping, anyway.

9. Done the cleaning.

10. Cooked pizza and garlic bread for dinner (eating? You think I have time??)

11. Solved world poverty.

12. Fed the hungry.

13. Healed the sick.

14. And raised the dead.

Sorry I haven't yet solved the Foot & Mouth, or Legionnaire's crises we're currently having around here, but heck I've been busy! Oh, and I've been shortlisted in the Writers' News retirement poem competition as well - just forgot to slide that one into the list!

Today's nice things:

1. Finishing the rewrite
2. Golf
3. The poetry shortlisting.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The long-haul editor

Ye gods, but editing The Gifting is one hell of a slog. Probably because there's 125,000 words of it rather than my usual 70,000. I have literally spent all day glued to my computer, though I did have a break for lunch. Pasta and fish, if you're asking. Wheat-free pasta too - it's marvellous. Oh, and I did fetch the post from downstairs too, but none of it was for me. Bugger.

Anyway, I am adding in a second voice to the novel (I am making it longer, dammit - what joy!) as I think it gives it context. And I do so love that essential Greek chorus effect. Ho hum. And I am giving Simon some more witty lines. I think he's enjoying them. It's his ultimate defence against the dark, you know. And, yes, these things were mentioned in the TLC (spit! sorry, that just came out - couldn't help myself ...) report amidst the condescension and negativity, so at least I am gleaning something from the wreckage. However, the more I go through and edit the darn thing, the more I think the report writer just didn't "get" it. Yeah, yeah, the ultimate writer's defence (God, but I need some of Simon's witty lines myself) and blah blah we've heard it all before, but I think there's a grain of truth in my general hissy-fitness. But, hell, what do I know? Maybe it is just shite.

Other news of today: Pirbright now seems to be the centre of Legionnaire's Disease, as well as the heart of Foot & Mouth - so Lord H has taken to using another route for work. Just in case. If I were you, I wouldn't come to Surrey for a while. If you were planning to. We're obviously in the middle of some national quarantine zone. I expect to be given a funny suit and a ration pack any day now.

Tonight, I am carrying on with Simon's witty repartee in the midst of disaster and death (how like the home life of our own dear Queen) and watching the odd comedy on TV. Whilst doing the ironing. My, how I love to multi-task.

Today's nice things:

1. Editing
2. Thinking maybe that TLC might (just might, mind you ...) be wrong
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Nurseries, assessments and Cathy’s blogging award

Quite a quiet morning at work, though for some reason I am consumed by anxiety. Think it must be one of those days – have taken one De-Stress pill so far, plus a few squirts of Rescue Remedy spray, and still I am keyed up for danger as if it’s just about to happen.

Which it probably is, groan – as I had to minute the Nursery Management Group at lunchtime. Children – double groan. I don’t even like talking about them – and the only good thing is we don’t have to have one in the group. Can you imagine the trauma if we did?!?

Plus, this afternoon, I had to do a VDU assessment for one of the Counsellors. Which is part of my remit. I don’t mind the principle of the thing – it’s the having to talk to people and sound knowledgeable and confident that gets me. Really, I’m the least knowledgeable or confident person I know. Though, actually, I suppose I don’t know that many people, ho hum …

Anyway, enough wallowing in my own angst. At this rate, I could make an angst soup out of it and feed a family of five for a week. Though, no doubt, they would have problems of their own. But the nice news is that Cathy has nobly nominated me for a Creative Blogger Award (and has, quite rightly, achieved one herself, so well done, Cathy!). Gosh, thanks, Cathy! When I can get my head round the instructions you’ve kindly left me as to how to do whizzy things with the icon, I shall endeavour to copy it to my site and wear my new badge with pride. Lordy, but how I love a badge!

Oh, and I think someone must have purchased a copy of A Dangerous Man from Amazon as my six figure rating now has a 1 at the front – hurrah! Though I suspect not for long, alas. But thank you, kind person –whoever you are! – and I do hope you enjoy it.

Other good news - Short Talk have accepted my story, A Question of Trust, for recording and selling later in the year - so I hope it will be available as a download from their site for you to listen to. Gosh indeed!

And I've finished Murakami's Blind Woman, Sleeping Willow - great stuff. A wonderful collection of short stories, and you must all rush out and buy it. The man can't do a thing wrong! In my opinion.

Finally, I'd deleted most of my work from the Writewords site, as I really don't want to be seen as a "serious" writer on there any more (whatever one of those actually is), so I'm trying to loosen the ties a little. I've just left the current stuff up, but I'll see how I go.

Tonight, I shall be trogging away doing the editing to The Gifting and sighing a lot. And I have my Wednesday sherry (Lord, how sad I am indeed) already lined up in my sights. Heck, maybe I deserve two? No, no, that way madness lies (as Lear would have said if I’d quoted that correctly …).

And “Heroes” is on TV later on, so naturally I shall be glued. Must remember to set the video for “Will & Grace”. I’m nothing without my American comedy fixes.

Today’s nice things:

1. Being a Creative Blogger – of sorts!
2. Sherry
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Of fragility, editing and prime ministerial visits

Still feeling rather fragile today – understandably so after the slings and arrows of yesterday. Have had another look through that report on The Gifting and highlighted the suggestions for change in the midst of the general negativity and condescension. Actually, there aren’t that many, and certainly not anything I can’t do, but the editor who shall remain nameless seems to have made a huge deal of them. So I shall get on and do those I think are okay and kick into touch the nonsense parts.

With that in mind, I have – as of yesterday – written a prologue (something I swore I’d never do, as I usually hate prologues, but I think it works here) and gone through the first (fairly short) three chapters. Adding in and taking out where I think necessary. I also think I’m going to add in four short sections spoken in another voice (another first for me …) as these will, I hope(!), add greater depth and up the tension notches. Hurrah.

Oh, and Lord H tells me that our new PM, the noble Mr Brown, has shown his solidarity and concern for our local hard-pressed farmers in the middle of the new foot-and-mouth crisis (yes, it is just down the road from us, sadly) by visiting … um … Reigate. Well, thanks a bunch, Mr B – if only you’d checked a map of Surrey first, you might have realised that Reigate is nowhere near Wanborough. Or maybe you just fancied a trip to Reigate? Who can tell, eh …

However, Lord H also tells me (he has to drive past the exclusion zone on his way to work) that there are two policemen standing guard near the “Do Not Pass This Point” notice, fighting off this horribly virulent virus with the aid of two truncheons and a happy policemen’s song. Well, the nation will be safe then, hurrah. We can all rest soundly in our beds.

Work has happened today. As ever. Not much else to say about it really. Except that I did buy three books of large letter stamps and went for a walk round the lake at lunchtime. Where I saw a juvenile wagtail. At least I think that’s what it was …

And here’s a poem:


The more you chase them
the more your poems
as multi-coloured
and unreachable
as butterflies.

Take a breath then;
no need to rush.

Sit awhile.
When the air is sufficiently still,
watch your words drift back,
nestling fresh-winged,

on the palm of your trusting hand.

Today’s nice things:

1. Writing a prologue to The Gifting
2. Laughing at the Prime Minister
3. My lunchtime walk.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Pink Champagne and Apple Juice
Goldenford Publishers

Monday, August 06, 2007

Bad reports and foot rubbing

Got my report on The Gifting from The Literary Consultancy today. Groan. They really hated it. I was utterly depressed after reading through it – twice – and still am actually. I don’t think this is because there are particularly huge amounts of changes to do, from what I can tell – certainly I had more changes to do for A Dangerous Man, and the tone of the report there was very much more positive – but it’s just the overall feeling of this report that’s getting me down. Plus there was a lot of general stuff in it about things I already know. So I’ve struggled to glean from it the changes I consider they’re suggesting and which I can make. Unlike all the other reports I’ve received from TLC, it really doesn’t inspire me to crack on with it either. I suspect therefore that if – and today it’s a VERY big if – I use them again, I shall make sure to ask not to have that particular editor.

Lord alone knows what someone would have done if they’d been a first-time novelist and this was their first editorial report. God preserve them! Some of it was very condescending indeed. I’m more than peed off, and at least I’ve been round the writing block a few times. Still, it’s left me feeling totally gutted, and that I won’t be doing any new novel stuff for a while after I’ve got this rewrite out of the way. Shit like this just makes novel-writing feel like a chore, rather than enjoyable. And, as you generally get enough crap elsewhere in the writing world, novel-writing ought to, at the very least, be enjoyable.

Other stuff of today – work was so-so, but my lunchtime reflexology session was good. I think I fell asleep a couple of times during the session, so obviously needed that. Tonight, I’ve got to do the shopping on the way home (double groan), and there’s sod all on TV. Damn those autumn schedules indeed.

Oh and some nice stuff – at last! – I’ve joined the Erotic Authors Association, and thanks to Erastes for allowing me onto the membership list, even though only a small proportion of my novels are erotic. Maybe that’s a cue to do more – and not use bloody TLC again. TLC my arse, eh.

And I've just finished the latest edition of Brittle Star poetry magazine - very enjoyable as usual. Inspired by something (but Lord alone knows what), I've written this:


All the women
at work
are wearing brown today.

Perhaps I didn't get
the email
telling me what to wear.

Still, brown doesn't suit me.
Then again,
neither does work.

Not much else has happened really, and I’m still feeling churned up and not really able to concentrate on much else. There are definitely two De-Stress pills with my name on tonight. And at least one good strong whisky. Maybe more.

Today’s nice things:

1. Reflexology
2. Joining the Erotic Authors Association
3. Whisky.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Pink Champagne and Apple Juice
Goldenford Publishers

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Where be the birds?...

A day's birdwatching today - but the birds had obviously not been informed. Or maybe it was just too hot for them? Who can say. Anyway, our first port of call was Moor Green Lakes near Camberley, which Lord H has joined as it's near his work. A lovely place, but the birds, as I say, were few and far between. Though, to be fair, the herons are out in force. Still, a nice walk. Though the place could do with a loo. Do these nature people have kidneys of iron??

After that, we went to The Vyne in Basingstoke for lunch and a walk round their new wetlands centre and hide. Good grief, it was bloody hot! Though it was obviously where the action was: six or seven herons on the lake, and then one of them decided to eat a young duck. Mother bravely attacked it in a bid to rescue her hapless chick, but really a duck is no match for a heron. Not only that, but a second heron stood in as a threatening look-out and drove away the duck every time she came near, while the first one tucked into its Sunday lunch. Nature: red of tooth and claw indeed. A walk through the woods ended our day - though I must admit the walk was rather too long for me. Lord H's comment: you've had enough of having fun now, haven't you?... Yes, you could say that! Still, we managed to revive ourselves with an essential choc ice at the kiosk. Bliss. Though, unusually for us, we didn't buy a chocolate mouse in the shop. Goodness me, the heat must really be getting to us ...

This evening, we'll be glued to yesterday's video of "The Mummy Returns" - camp horror is probably the best description. But, ye gods, it's three hours long!!! We'll have to start it now if we're going to get to bed before we turn into pumpkins. What is wrong with film directors these days? Have they forgotten how to yell "cut"??

Oh, and I had a small kitchen crisis today, which inspired a poem:


Bumbling round the kitchen
at breakfast

I toss a glass of water
in the sink.

The damn thing
throws it back.

Good God, these days
even my house

has opinions.

While I'm thinking about poetry, I'm also enjoying my Cromwell book, and wrote something about it last night:

Musing on history

The best love
lies in the heart’s history.
A life fulfilled. Not one
in the waiting.
Now I read
of Cromwell
and wish I could have met him.

Not for the battles
but more for the slow
unfolding of a life.
The little-by-little understanding
of the spirit’s
darker corners,
the way perhaps to light them.

I long for a sense
of what might be right
in the time’s bleak culture.
The power, passion also
to do it. While, like him,
I carry the weight
of the mind’s strange labyrinth,

one difference remains:
my journey is yet
to be done.

And let's not forget "haiku Sunday":

In the heat, words stick
to my pen, crowding the nib.
The page lies empty.

Today's nice things:

1. Birdwatching (of sorts!)
2. Poetry
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Pink Champagne and Apple Juice
Goldenford Publishers

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Mighty Erudite and the art of the wedding

Met Jools of Mighty Erudite Publishers today for a bacon sandwich and a coffee in Guildford. We were half an hour later in meeting than anticipated as I was waiting like a dork outside the House of Fraser whilst poor Jools was inside wondering where the hell I was. Sorry, Jools! And thank goodness for mobile phones, eh! I also looked possibly more of a dork than usual as I was dressed in my wedding outfit, though I wasn't actually wearing the hat. Just carrying it in a suitable (Macy's!) bag. Anyway we had a great chat about the publishing company and her first two authors scheduled for an October launch, I got really excited about it (and still am), and she seems to like my editing work and wants to use me again. So that's really good news, hurrah! And phew!

Anyway, after that, I met up with Lord H (complete with summer blazer and his own head-gear), put my hat on and headed off to the Carol's wedding. Lord H's comment: how unusual it is to be going to a wedding which has a boy and a girl in it. We can't remember the last time we went to one of those ... And very nice it was too. The bride looked beautiful (ace dress!)and giggled all the way through, we sang two nice hymns I could really belt out (in my own inimitable fashion ... Life Tip: don't stand next to me at a wedding), we muddled our way through some choruses, and I got quite choked up during the vows. As ever, eh. Honestly, I am just a complete slush-bucket under this cynical, bitter exterior. No, really ... There were nibbles and drinks in the church afterwards, and then we slipped away as we weren't going to the evening do (parties are hell to sociopaths like us, you know!).

So we have a free evening - hurrah! Which will be filled with Chinese food, beer and there's a new psychic drama on TV later on, so will be watching that for sure. I love that kind of stuff. So, all in all, a good day - shock! horror! And, bloody hell, but the sun is shining too. Astonishing.

Today's nice things:

1. Meeting with Jools
2. Carol's wedding
3. Psychic TV dramas.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Pink Champagne and Apple Juice
Goldenford Publishers

Friday, August 03, 2007

Haircuts and Monkey Kettles

Managed to get a respectable amount done to The Bones of Summer today - and ye gods, I might even have a plot appearing. Miracles will never cease ... I haven't overdone it either, so feel fairly chilled and somewhat less fragile (thank God for De-Stress pills and some very wise words from those in my virtual world - thank you) today. Anyway, the current novel is now standing at 15,000 words, and I think I'll have Paul & Craig staying overnight in Devon. They'll be hard-pressed to hightail it back to London now for sure.

Today's nice news is that one of my poems has appeared in the latest edition of "Monkey Kettle" magazine, so that's a good feeling. I quite like the look of the mag too - very quirky and "in your face". Love it. Today's ironic news is that the title of the poem I have in there is ... um ... "Anger." Yes, well, couldn't come at a more appropriate time, doncha know, bearing in mind yesterday's tirade. And at least the piece itself is rather more tongue-in-cheek than I was.

This morning, I've popped into Godalming to restock on the local paper and my dwindling supply of Vitamin B pills. Honestly, shake me and I swear I'll rattle. I also paid a flying visit to Gladys, but only stayed half an hour as she was still really tired after her birthday celebrations earlier this week. Well, at 91 years, you're entitled to feel spent after a picnic round the village pond. I get tired if I walk to the post box, and that's only five doors down ...

Lynda came to cut my hair early afternoon, so I have now thankfully lost my woolly Old English sheepdog look. Lord, but it's nice to see out from beneath the hair, you know. And as it was her birthday as well, I made her wear the Birthday Tiara (which comes complete with sparkly pink bits and a rousing press-button rendition of the Birthday Song played on what might well be a Glockenspiel) and take it away afterwards too. Well, I like to think I can provide appropriate sartorial support to today's professional woman.

Tonight, I really must do some cleaning, and then we've got pizza, herbal bread, ice cream, and a nice bottle of rose (sorry, don't know how to do an accent on that one ...) chilling in the fridge. Bliss.

Nothing worth watching on TV though - crap!

Today's nice things:

1. The "Monkey Kettle" poem
2. Getting a haircut
3. Friday night food & wine - bliss!

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Pink Champagne and Apple Juice
Goldenford Publishers

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A day of two halves

What a strange day today has been. The early part of it was rather enjoyable. I had a nice and measured review of A Stranger's Table on the Writewords site which said the following:

"This slim volume is thoroughly worth the £5.50 it costs if you don't get it for free as a reviewer. It provides plenty of poems, a range of themes and forms, and above all, the interest of reading a collection that grows and gains confidence as the reader progresses through it. In the first few pages, poems felt a little static, the repetiton of lines, which she uses powerfully elsewhere, sometimes felt awkward. But a haiku stands out for its pleasant, almost cosy image of boats at rest - "shoes expecting feet". Its calm understatement, with the backdrop of nature just outside the frame of the poem, is true to the mood and root of haiku. Very quickly, the collection gets into its stride. Images are powerful, unique and clear; form is free but there are certain turns or sleights of hand which she favours: repetition of a first and last line, a final couplet. Throughout, there are images, moments, that hit the eye like the sun hits a mirror: "skin stammering" with cold, "small, hot cries of children" watching fireworks. What pulls the collection together is emotion: love, despair, passion as destructive as desirable, fear and need, anguish. Even when observing the way rain "decomposes" a window - an image which is precise, unique and powerful - the rain is also "flinging its whole soul, brave wet heart out", and that is perhaps a fair description of what this poetry does too. There are volcanoes and stars and sex. The bulk of the poetry spares nothing and bares everything, going for the heart with a scalpel, as indeed poets should, seeking for truth. And yet my favourites, (which probably betray my own taste more than anything) were the cooler ones: Almost A Cyclist, Moon Landing, Preparing to Paint, The Cat's Response to Yellow. All these are in the second half of the collection, and they are all as good as anything I have read recently. If it needed to, the collection could stand on these four excellent poems alone - but happily, it has much more to recommend it."

Thanks, Leila (who wrote the review) - I really appreciate it.

A very good counselling session with Kunu this morning also. We discussed the fact that I feel able at the moment to make one or two social arrangements for the coming few weeks - an improvement over the last year or so certainly - just as long as I can keep them under control and in my general location. I think it feels okay for now as sometimes August seems such a flat month. A non-month really. Something between the end of the academic year, in July, and the beginning of the next, in September. God alone knows what August is actually for. It's funny too how the points that matter in counselling always seem to come up near the end of the appointment. This time it was to do with me and friendships - I think I'm beginning to realise that I can't actually cope with seeing my friends all the time. To be honest, I've never actually been one of those who pines to meet up with them, even though it's nice when I do. I could probably happily go for quite a while without seeing anyone. Apart from Lord H. And I think this is to do with marriage - I can only really cope with one strong rope of friendship, and Lord H is most certainly that. The others are still there and I'm very fond of them, but if I see them lots, then I find it totally overwhelming and way too demanding. Which probably means I'm either (a) a would-be hermit, or (b) a sociopath. Take your pick. Anyway, it was food for thought.

Post-counselling, I stayed in town, did a spot of shopping and then sat upstairs in Waterstones in the peace and quiet and wrote three poems and two A4 sides of The Bones of Summer. It was bliss. Real bliss. I'll definitely do it again - it was quite inspirational. Here's one of the poems:


It’s easier to write
in bookshops;

words hum
on shelves,

drawing out
my heart’s strange ink.

Early afternoon, I had my Clarins facial with Sarah - a new girl (at least for me) as Emma has left now. (Was it something I said?...) Anyway, it was lovely - very relaxing and really chilled. Sarah seems quieter on the whole, but actually it was great not to have to talk and, instead, just to sit back and let it all happen. I've booked another appointment with her for September. Something to look forward to for sure.

Back at home, I've finished off my read-through and suggested edit of Martin Burke's Jerusalem for Mighty Erudite Publishers. Fantastic - I really loved it. It swept me away and took me to places poetry hasn't taken me to for a while. Something like Blake and Browning and Eliot all mixed up, but with a unique modern spin that completely seduced me and left me wanting more. In the best sense. I definitely think Jools should go with both poets - Noakes and Burke - they're shit-hot. And for very different reasons.

That was when the day changed. And over such a stupid, small thing too. Sean from Flame Books emailed me to say that Gay's the Word bookshop have decided not to stock A Dangerous Man. No reasons given, and his email itself was unusually short. I don't know, but usually I can take this kind of setback, shed a tear, grit my teeth, put two fingers up at the buggers and carry on. Today, for whatever reason, I can't, and it's getting to me again even while I'm typing this. Damn it. Damn them really. It feels like a kick in the teeth - I was just so sure that ADM would find a home there, where he's found one in no other bookshop. At the moment I'm swinging between rage and depression - believe me, it's not a pleasant experience. Though I've taken a De-Stress pill and hope it kicks in sometime. God knows why this is really getting to me - maybe because I don't feel accepted by the mainstream guys and now the gay contingent (at least in the bookshop sense) have kicked me - and Michael - into touch also. For God's sake, what the fuck do the mean-minded bastards actually want?? It's a bloody mystery for sure. Either way, the end result is that I feel I belong in no camp and am not likely to any day soon. I do wonder, however, in true cynical fashion, if the response would have been different if I'd been a man. Hey bloody ho.

Thank God for Lord H though - he came back from work in the middle of all this and has dealt admirably with a shaky, tearful, pissed off, stressed out wife. Though, ye gods, maybe he's just used to that by now. Anyway, the upshot is I think I'm just going to sit in front of the TV all evening. Maybe watch some of the comedies on later. And take another De-Stress pill before I go to sleep. It might help.

Today's nice things:

1. Leila's review of A Stranger's Table
2. Counselling
3. A Clarins facial
4. Sitting in Waterstones and simply writing
5. Reading Jerusalem.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Pink Champagne and Apple Juice
Goldenford Publishers

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Champagne blogs and wildcard poems

Strange dreams last night – all about being in the Plagues of Egypt with Lord H and trying to run round the huge house we were in shutting all the windows to stop the flies from entering. I think we managed it too, even though the windows were sash windows and immensely tall. I did feel sorry for the people outside though, but there wasn’t a lot I could do about it. Ah well. Hmm, weird or what? What does it all mean …? It’s a mystery.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I made a start on getting a skeleton file going for the support services annual report – not that there’s much I can fill in under the headers yet until the guys get their act together, but at least it shows willing. Plus I’m bumbling along changing the website to have the right info on for Student Advice. Goodness me, but I almost sound like a real Secretary there. Hush my mouth.

Plus we’ve been making guesses as to where Colin has been whisked off to for his 50th birthday surprise holiday. I guessed Bulgaria, and was winning till today when Carol came back and guessed Italy. Damn it as now we know he’s in France. So much for my winning streak, eh …

Oh and the glorious Sue has updated the Pink Champagne blog to include review news and the article I had broadcast last year, Ten Things I Know about Life, in No Particular Order … - so do pop in and have a look round. Visitors always welcome! And many thanks, Sue! Ooh, and not only that, but we've managed to sell three copies of Pink Champagne and Apple Juice via Amazon this month - hurrah! Thank you to those three discerning readers - a thousand blessings on your houses indeed.

Went for a walk round the lake at lunchtime. Managed to catch sight of a small brown bird, which could have been a sparrow or possibly anything at all, really. Who can say?

Thinking ahead, Jools from Mighty Erudite Publishers has arranged to meet up with me in Guildford on Saturday to discuss the possible creative consultancy job she might like me to do – so I’m looking forward to that, though I will have to wear my wedding outfit for the meeting(!) as Carol’s wedding is at 1.30pm. So I suspect I will look like a complete idjit, but heck I should be used to that by now … At the same time, Jools has sent me a couple of poetry collections to check out. One looks interesting but similar to lots of stuff around at the moment, but the other’s a completely wildcard long and luscious poem called Jerusalem, which I suspect I’m going to fall in love with. If I’m not halfway there already. It’s wild – I really hope she publishes it, even though I appreciate the market will be tricky. Sod the market is what I say – it’s quality that counts.

And on the University career front, the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Lord H’s question: is there an Anti Vice-Chancellor?...) is setting up a new group to look at induction & welcome for students, and has asked for me to administer it for him. Ha! That makes me feel good – I thought he might have had enough of me doing the Student Affairs Committee for him, but obviously not. Then again, maybe I’m just the scariest minute-taker in the village …

Tonight it’s “Heroes” and “Will and Grace” on TV. Double bliss then. Though I shall video “W&G” as I couldn’t possibly stay up to the ridiculous hour they schedule it for, or my eyes will drop out.

Finally, I must admit to feeling rather low and twitchy today – Lord knows why. Might be all the new things happening at work, post-restructuring, or socially. I don’t know. Anyway, it’s a pain. I took two calming pills this morning and I’ve just had a Rescue Remedy spray, so let’s hope they kick in soon, eh. We hope.

Today’s nice things:

1. The Champers blog
2. My first few glances at the Jerusalem poem.
3. TV.

Anne Brooke
Anne's website
Pink Champagne and Apple Juice
Goldenford Publishers